A PIONEERING cultural exchange that supports traditional, self-sustaining communities in western Ukraine is offering life-changing travel experiences to those up for an adventure.

Organised by Herefordshire-based social enterprise Experience Ukraine, the visits offer a rare insight into a timeless, rural culture set amidst stunning geography and wildlife of Carpathian Mountains. Visitors take part in family and village life and have opportunities to learn skills crucial to livelihoods that work in harmony with nature in a very safe environment.

The founder of the enterprise, Nataliya Cummings, has direct experience of such communities: a native Ukrainian now living in Hereford, she was living in the village of Nizhnie Selische in the trans-Carpathian mountain region. While there she became involved with a range of community projects.

Nataliya recognised that its people had preserved the sense of community and connection with the natural world to which many in the modern world aspire.

However the villages suffer each year when a number of their population leave for the cities for several months to boost their income. A relatively small amount of income from eco-tourism makes a big difference to these communities, providing for more adults to remain in the village throughout the year.

Nataliya and her husband Kie set up Experience Ukraine in 2012, to support this aim while giving British people a unique insight into a beautiful, ecologically sustainable and increasingly rare way of life. They have run trips to the region for the last two summers, which were an overwhelming success.

"We took groups from the Herefordshire and Shropshire area. All the participants were captivated by the vibrancy of community life there," said Nataliya.

The organisation is currently taking bookings for one week visit in August 2015.

For more information see experienceukraine.co.uk or contact Nataliya on 07963090838 nataliya.cummings@gmail.com